Updated： December 13, 2017
Lucky Bags In Japan: A New Year's Shopping Tradition
In Japan after the New Year's celebrations, many shops sell items at high discount buddled in what are called "fukubukuro" or lucky bags. Here's more on this tradition!
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Fukubukuro: The Lucky Bags!
The selling of lucky bags in Japan is a tradition that resembles the post-Christmas sales or the black Friday sells in other parts of the world. Items are generally sold at 30-50% discounts (or even much more in some cases). But there is a different twist: they are sold in secret bundles of around 5 items. So you don't actually know what you are buying until you open your bag. Every bag usually contains at least one pricey item. But be aware that it's all up to chance. You may get a really expensive thing that you absolutely don't need. Sales begin at on January 1st and generally last a week.
It probably goes without saying, but of course, peeking in the bag is prohibited! You'd probably anger the staff or be forced to buy the bag if you do so. If you are buying a fukubukuro containing clothes, however, the size should be indicated. Remember that Japanese clothing sizes are generally one size smaller than most Western sizes. So If you are an M-size in America, you would probably be an L-size in Japan.
This is a tradition beloved by many. Some people are absolutely crazy about the lucky bags and are willing to queue for hours to get one from stores that are known for including pricey items in their bags. Apple Stores are notoriously famous for their long queues of fukubukuro hunters. They've given out MacBooks in their bags in the past.
A Few Places You Might Want To Go Hunting
Yodobashi Camera is a huge retailer of electronics, PCs, cameras and much more with stores all over Japan.
You can find lucky bags such as this one which sells for about 5,000 yen. Prices do vary depending on the department. Shop around and you'll see many fukubukuro placed at different locations in the store.
If you are indeed lucky, you may get things such as this Sony camera in your bag.
Have you heard of Muji? It's a Japanese company selling household and consumer goods, including clothing.
The quality at Muji is generally good and the design is simple yet stylish. They have, according to many online comments, pretty good items on average in their fukubukuro.
Cheap Ones: Combinis And Coffee Shops
You can get very cheap ones at places such as convenience stores or coffee shops.
At combini (convenience store), you usually get an assortment of cheap snacks at a great discount. You might get snacks you wouldn't normally buy and find out they're really good. It might be worth trying. Starbucks and Tully's coffee shops are also known to give out pretty decent things in their fukubukuro.
Fukubukuro lucky bag hunting can be a pretty fun activity. The main point is to get one from a store that has merchandise you like for the most part. That way your lucky bag won't turn into a "fukoubukuro" (misfortune bag) or "utsubukuro" (depression bag) as people say about the bags containing junk merchandise or things that are worthless to you.
- Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.
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